She’s a girl on the level.
By: Helen Harrison
“Everyone can be good-looking!” said Carole Lombard, who, besides being Hollywood’s best-dressed woman is also its reigning glamour queen and Private Sophisticate No. 1, leaving Cinemaland’s honors as unbalanced as the budget.
“Everyone?” I gurgled, hopefully.
“Absolutely!” she said, in her crisp, unhesitant way.
“But how?” I persisted — having just graduated from the correspondence course of radio stooges.
“By doing something about it! Women get weepy about looking older and bemoan the fact they’re putting on weight and adding a second chin, but they’re just too lazy to do anything about it. Of course it’s easier to let yourself go — to avoid taking the trouble; but they certainly miss a lot of fun by slipping into the middle-age class before their time because it’s less trouble to lie in bed and read than it is to take an early breakfast, a swim, put in a lively game of tennis or a canter through the park before starting the day.”
“And,” she continued, looking very lovely in a silver cloth hostess gown (Travis Banton, no doubt), “they’d like to be a moom-pitcher star, but they don’t lift an eyebrow to attain their ambition.”
Carole, I might divulge, is not among that exclusive coterie born with diamond-studied platinum spoons, who receive one coat of paint and two coats of sable at some of our better finishing schools and who, as a result of starting their cinematic careers where Pickford left off, are loftier than a stratosphere flyer and as hoity-toity as a casting director.
As I recall, she’s successfully hurdled more obstacles than the Prince of Wales — and plenty of them weren’t on a horse! When she was in an automobile accident five years ago she thought she was “through,” yet she had the courage to put those months — when she was lying on a hospital cot — to good account. Although she had plenty of cause she didn’t spend the time crying into her pillow, bemoaning her Fate and her looks — which lay in the palm of her plastic surgeon’s hands. She spend the time learning microphone technique, and, when she won her fight and regained her beauty, she was ready for such a career as would then have seemed impossible as Charlie Laughton playing Ruggles!
“It’s amazing to me how fearful people are of themselves,” she reflected (and, as you know, she reflects very well) as she lay back on the couch with her stocking-less feet curled up and revealing beautifully pedicured nails in stunning sandals.
“I can remember myself as a little girl, standing at the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, watching my idol, Gloria Swanson. How I used to mimic her! All very distressing to everyone around me, I assure you. But I made up my mind then that I, too, was going to have a screen career and I never deviated from my purpose.”
Probably that was what started Carole with the Sennett studio, as a Bathing girl, just as Gloria had. Nevertheless it proves the platinum spoon was only pewter after all!
“The most important thing for any woman who wants to attain her end — and I don’t think there’s a living sou without some aim in life, from taking off ten pounds to becoming a screen tar — is to have a clearly defined goal and working like all get-out to attain it.”
“Well now that you’ve won your ‘G’ in Hollywood’s glamour school, is there anything you still want to be or do?”
By the look on her face I was prepared for anything from an earthquake (home grown) to a stardom storm. “Perhaps,” I thought, “we’d better take to the lifeboats, men, or the cyclone cellar.”
“Why of course there is!” she finally exploded, of course in a nice, ladylike way, ” I should hope so! There always will be!”
“It being…” I prompted.
“… a really keen desire to do something fine, technically. My secret ambition is to do ‘Peter Ibbetson’ on the stage. Does that sound fantastic?”
I thought it sounded veddy alright, and I said, “Not at all…”
“And,” she continued, “I mean to!” (as though Lombard could ever be doubted!).
“Acting isn’t the only thing in life attained by undeviating purpose and tireless effort. Getting a husband, holding on to the one you want, stunt flying or boon-dogging demand just as much time and effort. I simply haven’t any patience with people who ‘want’ things but who aren’t ever willing to go after what they want!” (So please don’t let Carole get all disappointed in you!)
“And,” she added, “the basis of all purpose is sincerity. If you want to be a successful actor or actress, or, for that matter a real person, you have to retain some honest emotions, you have to feel and react sincerely.”
Really, I suppose that’s what makes Carole different from a lot of the Mayfair crowd who long since have lost their individuality and become Ye Movie Heroine, even when they’re washing behind their ears. Of course it’s pretty difficult to remember you were little Janie Peters — as Carole was back in Ft. Wayne — when your face comes up at you from magazines, billboards, newspapers and the screen. After weathering a few snooty premieres of your films at Grauman’s Chinese even a Peters might be excused for getting herself mixed up with Pompadour, Recamier and Princess Marina. But Carole still has managed very nicely. She can still swear on provocation, even as you and I, feel emotions that call for healthy red corpuscles and tell people off when the occasion demands it — as well as doing nice things for worthy causes without the aid of a publicity corps.
“To keep one’s individuality,” she admitted, “in the midst of picture-making, where make-believe is the essence of life, is a constant struggle. Some players realize this danger when they arrive, and fight from the beginning. Others learn, still others forget…”
“There are comparative few who wake up early to take themselves apart and find out what ticks. Then, as likely as not, they rebel and once this rebellion develops into a noble rage against the sham and tinsel of the film capital’s worst aspects they’re saved. Eureka!”
“Some people become so affected that they make faces when they talk, like this.” (And if you want to cure measles, whooping cough, lumbago, chilblains and asthma you just ought to see Carole give out some too, too divine expressions registering emotions ranging from genteel mirth to curdled charm). “It’s pitiful,” she insisted, “for they can’t even pass a show window without watching their reflection in the glass. All of their sensations are done ‘with mirrors.'”
“Of course there are plenty of the other type of person, like Claudette Colbert, whose thoughts, as soon as she steps out of the studio, belong to her.”
“Actually it’s pitiful that people take so little advantage of their chance for making themselves whatever they wish to be.” (I’d wish to be Carole Lombard). “There isn’t a man, woman or child who hasn’t the ability for being something really important, in one way or another. But being important doesn’t call for ice water running through your veins or for synthetic emotions, all neatly tabulated. ‘Bring me my leopard coat this afternoon, Fifi, and a sinister smile to go with it,’ or ‘my Patou gown, if you please, wit ha dash of No. 32 — smoldering passion, I believe…’ You can be a success and a person too, if you work at it!”
Carole is the product of a lovely face, a beautiful body, a good mind and an indomitable will. But they’d all fall flatter than a pancake if one forgot her most important ingredient, sincerity. Sincerity is what is making the Lombard rise — and shine!